James 3:2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

 V2. Because we all "stumble in many things"

  1. Everyone has faults, and with many people the improper use of the tongue is a major one
  2. But it takes spiritual maturity ("a perfect man") not to stumble in word!

This should not discourage any from trying to find out if teaching is a gift that they might have if nurtured along, but one should proceed with humility and caution.


V3 A bit controls a horse Psalm 39:1 I said, "I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me."

V4 1. A rudder controls the ship

  1. So our tongue controls the body... Sequence is Think, say, do.
  2. If you speak a lie, it won't be long before you find yourself living a lie
  3. If you speak suggestively in an evil manner, it won't be long before you begin acting evil!
  4. The power of the tongue to direct is easily applied to the dangers of teaching...
  5. The teacher can easily set the mood or direct the crowd in an encouraging way, or just as easily direct the crowd in a discouraging way
  6. the power to direct by the tongue should humble those who teach

V5 A small fire can easily cause great destruction (Great Chicago Fire 1million acres in 3 states)

  1. A loose tongue can ruin one's reputation… boasting
  2. It can also destroy churches, families, friendships, business’s

v6 James describes an uncontrolled tongue as;

  1. A fire, Prov 26:20-26
  2. A world of evil or iniquity
  3. So set among our bodies that it defiles the whole body

Ecclesiastes 5:6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?

  1. That which sets on fire the course of nature, sphere of influence it destroys everything around you
  2. That which is itself set on fire by hell! 2Kings 23:10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech. King Josiah removed the idols, the valley became a refuse heap which always burned

The Devil is described as an accuser of the brethren Rev 12:10,

The Devil is described as a liar and murder John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

  1. Should not this power to destroy and corrupt both ourselves and others caution us in becoming teachers?

V7 Despite being able to tame wild animals, man is unable to tame the tongue!

Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. Gen 9:2 again we have control after the flood

 V8 It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison! Ps 140:3 They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips.

Ps 52:1-5

Gossip -  Prov 17:9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

Pastor’s advice Woman was told to cut the hole in a pillow, the next day go back and pick them up

PG 62 poem about gossip

Flattery - Ps 55:21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, But war was in his heart; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords.

Ps 64:3-8

  1. By himself no MAN can tame the tongue, But with GOD'S help, we can tame it

Ps 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

  1. And with GOD'S help, we MUST tame it

Ep 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Co 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

V9-10 As one more example of how difficult it is to tame the tongue, James uses a very common (and fitting) problem

  1. blessing God and cursing men
  2. Something we are very likely to do, even on Sundays

    1) We spend time in worship, blessing God

    2) But after church, someone may give us a hard time for going to church or irritate us somehow

  1. Racists and bigots are often guilty of "blessing God and cursing men"!

v11-12 The illustrations of a spring, a fig tree and a grapevine, James shows the inconsistency of this!

  1. What comes forth is a true indication of what is inside
  2. Just as Jesus taught in

Mk 7:20-23 And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 "All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

  1. Despite all the praises we offer God, it is the curses against man that reveals the true person inside!


  1. These examples of the misuse of the tongue should humble and caution all those who would become teachers
  2. But they should also serve as a warning for us all, whether we teach or not, that we need to seek God's help in controlling the tongue!

May David's prayer be our own:

 Psalms 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Lastly, remember v11-12

The true believer in Jesus Christ will not contradict his profession of faith by the regular use of nasty and offensive words

Mt 7:15-23

Do you know Christ? If so prove it by taming your tongue with God’s help

If not then, trust Him today: